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Does Prednisone Raise Your Blood Sugar


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The relationship between diabetes and glaucoma is incompletely characterized. In some but not all studies, diabetes has been shown to be a risk factor for glaucoma, but in the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study, diabetes was found to be a protective factor that reduced the risk of developing glaucoma among subjects with elevated IOP.

A research team led by Muhammad Abdulrazik, M.D., Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, investigated the intriguing hypothesis that initiating insulin therapy in diabetic patients results in a clinically significant reduction in IOP.

Although previous studies have shown that insulin therapy appears to have no effect on IOP, unexpected IOP findings from follow-up of patients initiating insulin therapy have justified a reassessment, Dr. Abdulrazik said.

They evaluated a series of 21 subjects with type 2 diabetes scheduled to begin therapy with subcutaneous insulin. IOP was measured on several occasions over a three-week period before the initiation of therapy and again several times after three months of insulin therapy.


Statistically significant changes in IOP from baseline were observed in patients after the third month of insulin therapy, said Dr. Abdulrazik. Interestingly, the IOP-lowering effect of insulin was inversely related to body mass index .

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How Prednisone Dosage Impacts Side Effects

Most steroid side effects only occur when people take prednisonelong-term. For non-chronic issues, you might take it only for a couple ofweeks.

We also try to start you on a high dose and thenrapidly lower it, which also minimizes side effects, Dr. Ford explains. Thatway, you get the benefit of a strong anti-inflammatory burst to settle down thereaction. Then the prednisone stays in your system long enough at lower levels sothe whole reaction can turn itself off.

For longer-term prescriptions, doctors may taper down dosages gradually to get them as low as possible without the return of symptoms. We typically aim for a dose thats about 5 to 7 milligrams a day, says Dr. Ford.


Were trying to roughly match how much cortisol the body produces, though many patients will be on a higher or lower dose than that.

The right prednisonedosage helps your body fire on all cylinders and reduces potential sideeffects. But if you hit a symptom sweet spot, it doesnt mean you no longerneed to take it.

Dont stop taking prednisone without checking with your doctorfirst, Dr. Ford cautions. Stopping it suddenly will likely bring back thesymptoms were trying to control.

Signs And Symptoms Of Steroid

If your blood sugar levels are only slightly higher than usual, you may not have any of the symptoms of steroid-induced diabetes at all. But as your blood sugar levels rise, signs and symptoms may include:

  • going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
  • feeling really thirsty
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • losing weight without trying to.

Your doctor might ask you to check your blood sugar levels while on steroids. If you notice any of these symptoms, its important to let your GP know.

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How Long Will Prednisone Affect Blood Work

You could expect a dose or prednisone to be out of your system in 16.5 to 22 hours. The elimination half life of prednisone is around 3 to 4 hours. This is the time it takes for your body to reduce the plasma levels by half. It usually takes around 5.5 half lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from your system.

How Do Steroid Medications Affect Blood Glucose Levels

Will Prednisone Raise Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes and are taking steroid medication, your blood glucose levels are likely to increase. Steroid medications can raise blood glucose levels by reducing the action of insulin and making the liver release stored glucose into the bloodstream.

The timeframe in which these medications begin to affect your blood glucose levels can vary depending on how you are taking them.

  • Oral steroids: Blood glucose levels may begin to rise within a few days of starting oral steroids. Their effect on blood glucose levels will depend on the time, dose and type of steroid you are taking.
  • Steroid injections: Blood glucose levels may rise soon after the injection and may remain high for 3-10 days afterwards.

Creams used for skin conditions, and inhaled steroids used for asthma and ear and eye drops are unlikely to affect blood glucose levels.

If you need to take steroid medication, talk to your doctor about how it may affect your blood glucose levels and ask for advice on how to manage this. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for an information sheet about this medication.


High blood glucose levels can make you feel unwell, tired or lacking in energy, and thirsty. It can also make you pass urine more often.

Seek advice from your doctor or a credentialled diabetes educator on monitoring your blood glucose levels while taking steroid medication.

If you are taking steroid medication, talk to your doctor about how this may affect your blood glucose levels.

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Other Stories Of Prednisone And Diabetes:

Joe also experienced a critical blood sugar level after taking prednisone:

As a child I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called dermatomyositis. Growing up I had periodic treatment with prednisone.

When I was 27 I was on a 2 week course of prednisone . Then my doctor called me himself and told me to go straight to the hospital since my blood glucose was 740. I have not been on prednisone since.

As I got older I had minimal problems with the dermatomyositis. But in the last 5 years my diabetes has been out of control and considered very brittle. My doctor has had to change my insulin type four times in the last nine months. I feel most of my problems are the result of my long time use of prednisone.

Cheri had her type 2 diabetes go critical after a big dose of prednisone!

I had to go to the ER today for a severe allergic reaction. They hooked me up to the IV within 5 minutes of me walking in and they gave me a few meds into the IV including 120 mg of prednisone. The doctor sent me home with a prescription of prednisone . I was to take 3 pills once a day for 5 days. He did say it would affect my type 2 diabetes, but WOW he never said it would go to 499 tonight!

Miriam shares her experience with prednisone and diabetes:

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What Are The Risk Factors For Prednisone

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include those that are nonmodifiable and those that are lifestyle-related. Nonmodifiable risk factors include having a family history of diabetes or being 45 or older. African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Hawaiians, or Pacific Islanders are also considered high-risk groups.

Lifestyle risk factors for type 2 diabetes include lack of exercise, poor nutrition and being overweight or obese. People with these risk factors may reduce their likelihood of developing diabetes by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

When To Call Your Healthcare Provider

Can Steroids Raise Blood Sugar?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should call your healthcare provider immediately to discuss your symptoms. If you have the symptoms of a hypertensive emergency you should seek immediate medical attention.

When you’re having severe high blood pressure, it can trigger a hypertensive emergency which can lead to other conditions like a heart attack or stroke. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of other chronic diseases like kidney disease.


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What Are Nasal Steroids

Nasal steroids are available both via prescription and over the counter for the treatment of allergies and associated symptoms. They include:

  • Patanase

Corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory effects and also affect a variety of cells in the body that are associated with an inflammatory and allergic response. These cells include mast cells , eosinophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes.

While nasal steroids can be used on an ‘as-needed’ basis for temporary relief, studies show that consistent use often results in significant improvements in overall symptoms.

Checking Your Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, it is very important that your blood sugar level is tested during steroid treatment. If you do not already check your blood sugar, you will need to start checking it. If you do, you will need to check it more often. When you first take the steroids, make sure you have enough blood-testing equipment with you at home.


Your doctor may also suggest you check your blood or urine for ketones. Ketones are chemicals that can sometimes build up in the body when there is a severe lack of insulin. Ketones are toxic to the body and large amounts can be very serious. A high level of ketones in the body is called diabetic ketoacidosis . It mainly affects people with type 1 diabetes, but it can affect anyone with diabetes who uses insulin. It can also affect people who control their diabetes with tablets and their diet, but this is rare.

You should keep a record of your blood sugar levels and when you take the steroids. This is so you can see if there is a pattern. You can share the record with your doctors and nurses.

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If You Already Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes and you are prescribed steroids, then you may notice a rise in your blood glucose levels, which will usually mean that your diabetes treatment needs to be adjusted. It is important that you check your blood glucose levels regularly. If you are concerned that your diabetes is getting out of control while you are on steroids, contact your diabetes care team.

Your blood glucose level may rise 2448 hours after your first steroid injection or first dose of tablets, although this may be temporary. Inhaled steroids and steroid skin creams are unlikely to increase your blood glucose levels.


If your steroid treatment is intermittent, e.g. if you only take it with an acute recurrence of your illness, you may need to be on a different diabetes treatment while you are taking steroids.

If you have been on large doses of steroids but these doses are reduced as you get better, then treatment for your diabetes will also need to be reduced or you will be at risk of hypoglycaemia .

You may need to take steroids on a permanent basis. If so you will be reviewed by your GP or may be asked to attend the diabetic clinic at the local hospital.

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Where Was The Warning About Prednisone And Diabetes

Some commonly prescribed lupus medications, especially ...

Q. Three years ago, I developed a lung infection. The pulmonologist prescribed a short course of prednisone without any mention of side effects, which I promptly developed. Since I couldnt get any answers from him or my primary care physician, I stopped taking the drug.

Last year the infection came back. The symptoms had me worried about a heart attack. The emergency room and the pulmonologist put me on an aggressive tapered course of prednisone, but didnt talk about side effects. I experienced dry mouth, frequent urination, blurry vision, dizziness, constipation and mouth sores.

After 15 days of this, I went back to the emergency department. They apologized for not telling me that the prednisone would raise my blood sugar, which was at 605 when they checked.

They administered insulin and showed me how to use it for the rest of the prednisone course. Let others know that prednisone can definitely raise blood sugar!

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Tips For Managing Medication That Affects Blood Glucose

Despite these risks, you may find yourself needing to take one of these drugs while managing diabetes. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to help keep your blood sugar controlled, including the following:

Pause before immediately taking a new medication. Patients should always consult the pharmacist or their doctor before they start any new over-the-counter medication, Vivian says.

Clear it with your main diabetes doctor. If a specialist, like an orthopedist or psychiatrist, prescribes a new medication, check in with your certified diabetes educator or primary care doctor to ensure that its okay to take and to coordinate any necessary adjustments to your diabetes medication, Hsieh says.

Take care of yourself. Prioritize diet and exercise if youre taking a medication that may affect your blood sugar control. Physical activity and healthy nutrition help to prevent as significant of a spike, so we may not have to make an aggressive change in the medication regimen, says Vivian.

Blood Sugar Still High After Taking Prednisone

Asked
11 Feb 2015 by Anonymous
glucose, prednisone, diabetic, blood test, blood

I am/was a borderline diabetic. My A1c was 6.2 on my last bloodwork in July 2013. The day of my bloodwork, my fasting glucose was 126. I Haven’t had blood work since then .


During 2014, I was on prednisone a few times – twice for a cough and once for a throat infection . After the two times for the cough, my blood sugar shot up really high but after I was off of it for a few weeks, it went back to normal.

The December regimen was the longest and I believe the highest dosage. 60MG days 1-9, 40MG for on day 10, 30MG Day 11, 20 MG Day 12, etc. tapering off the medication. During this time I was EXTREMELY thirsty and my blood sugar shot up . My vision was also altered . I went to my eye doctor who said he saw nothing wrong and that once I was off of it, my vision shouldn’t be this blurry.

My vision returned to normal after I went off the medication however my blood sugar is still running high 3-4 hours after eating .

I’ve been reading where prednisone should be out of your system after a few days. What I’ve afraid of is that this caused long lasting damage which resulted in diabetes. I Need to take my blood sugar in the morning to see how it’s running before eating.

Have I done lasting damage?


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Metabolic Effects Of Glucocorticoids

The administration of glucocorticoids causes a significant change on the metabolism of carbohydrates, which can lead to insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and glycosuria. One of the first well-elucidated effects of this drug was its role in increasing hepatic gluconeogenesis, which seems to be related to the inhibitory effects of glucocorticoids on the conversion of pyruvic acid to acetyl-coenzyme A, leading to an accumulation of pyruvic acid and resulting in glucose resynthesis . Increased induction of enzymes related to gluconeogenesis, such as glucose-6-phosphatase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase contribute to this effect . An increase in hepatic glycogen deposition can be observed from three to twenty-four hours after the administration of glucocorticoids . In addition, the use of glucocorticoids plays an important role by augmenting glucose production and decreasing peripheral glucose utilization, maintaining high serum glucose levels . This action, which in physiological situations is fundamental for maintaining euglycemia during periods of fasting, may be exacerbated with the administration of exogenous corticosteroids, leading to hyperglycemia .

Fig. 1

Certain Antibiotics To Address Infections Such As Utis And Pneumonia

Diabetic’s High Sugar Coming From Another Source

A class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, used to treat illnesses like pneumonia and urinary tract infections , has been shown to cause both very low and high blood sugar, a study published in October 2013 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found. In addition, pentamidine, an antimicrobial drug used to treat a certain kind of pneumonia, can also cause a rise in blood sugar.

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Common Prednisone Side Effects

Prednisone can be administered as a tablet or a liquid. Oral medications, particularly in liquid form, like prednisone can cause mouth, throat and stomach side effects.

Other types of corticosteroids can be administered via inhalers and topically. Fluticasone in asthma medications like Advair, for example, comes in an inhaler, and hydrocortisone can come in topical creams. Methylprednisolone, for example, comes in tablets, but can also be used intravenously for multiple sclerosis patients.

Each method of taking corticosteroids can present their own unique side effects. Prednisone, as an oral medication, can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and sometimes cause side effects like thrush. It is also associated with sore throats, stomach pain and digestive issues.

Common prednisone side effects include:

  • Acne
  • Itching

Low Calcium From Prednisone

  • Teeth
  • Heart contraction

Calcium is the next lab value prednisone affects, leading to low calcium or hypocalcemia. As you know, calcium is very important for bones and teeth, for muscle contractionespecially for your heart. The normal range for calcium is 8.4 to 10.4.

My calcium levels did remain in the normal range here, but not my normal. My normal is in the higher nines and it falls to the lower nines when I was on prednisone. Prednisone caused my calcium levels to decrease to suboptimal levels.

Why does low calcium matter?

It matters because calcium is being decreased. Calcium is the #1 nutrient that we should pay attention to when on prednisone. The depletion of calcium directly leads to osteoporosis. Since prednisone is the #1 drug that leads to osteoporosis, this is a big problem.

Thats why the American College of Rheumatologists recommend that everyone taking prednisone to be on calcium and vitamin D.

I knew that in a textbook way that prednisone depletes calcium. But I didnt realize that this was completely true for me, personally: that my own blood calcium had dropped. I knew this fact from school but did not really know it from my own personal experience. It showed up in my own medical record that prednisone is depleting calcium.

It really astonished me the first time I looked back. Oh my goodness, I do truly have evidence of having low calcium while being on prednisone.

Find out more in the one called the Silent Side Effect of Prednisone Osteoporosis.

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